Loice Kashangura's Final Profession
16th July 2008 

Loice kneeling before Bishop
Bishop Alexio questions Loice

Loice has been studying in Milltown Institute, Dublin, Ireland for the past four years.  Having completed her Degree in Theology in May of this year, she then returned to her home country, Zimbabwe, to make her Final Profession with the Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa in the presence of her own family and among her own people.

Sr. Bridgette receives Loice's Vows
Sr. Bridgette receives Loice's Vows
I had the privilege of attending the ceremony and was delegated to receive her Vows on behalf of the Congregational Leader, Sr. Miriam Duggan, who was unable to be in Zimbabwe for the occasion.

This was my first visit to Zimbabwe.  Having heard so much negative news about the country, I was pleasantly surprised on my arrival in Harare Airport to see the warm and welcoming smiles of all the Airport staff.  However, on arriving at our Convent in Mutare, the Sisters were delighted to see me and welcomed me in the dark.  They were experiencing one of their usual power cuts.  This is the order of the day - no electricity from approximately 6.30 a.m. -11.00 p.m. daily.

I was amazed to see how the Sisters cope so well with their situation daily.  They take it in turns to wake up at 4.00 a.m. in order to boil the kettle and fill all available flasks.  This helps to avoid using precious gas to make the usual cups of tea during the day. The ‘phone and e-mail are accessed after midnight to deal with business matters and catch up with news from home.

Colourful dancers holding flowers
In the midst of all this we prepared for the Final Profession Ceremony.  The days leading up to it were spent keeping an eye on the prices and availability of commodities in the shops like sodas and bread which would be needed for the celebration.  One day the price of a loaf of bread was 150 billion Zimbabwean Dollars and before the end of the week it was one trillion!!!  You can count the zeros for yourselves!  But still, the Sisters set to work for the Big Day in a spirit of joy and enthusiasm.

Sisters Cecilia and Rena came from South Africa to be present and help with the preparations.  Patience, our recently professed Zimbabwean Sister, and Olivia also came to join us.  So there were

Loice's brother speaks on behalf of family
Loice with Mother and Brother
plenty of hands on deck, each being allotted a different assignment. 

On the 15th July, the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Cathedral was duly cleaned and decorated with flowers for the occasion. Early next morning a group of us decorated the local Greek Club where the reception was to be held.  The staff of Youth Alive proved more than able helpers.  They did a splendid job and transformed the Club into a regal banqueting hall. 

At 11.00 a.m. Bishop Alexio Muchbaiwa and a great number of priests assembled at the entrance of the Cathedral to form the ‘Entrance Procession’. To the rhythm of Vose Vose Vachiziva (Shona), Olivia and her seven dancers led the procession into the Cathedral.  Behind the dancers came Loice’s family, then Loice with the Franciscan Sisters and finally the clergy. It was a simple yet profound beginning to the ceremony.

Loice's family  hold symbols
 Loice receives candle   Loice showing profession ring

Important and meaningful moments stand out for me:  the exchange of symbols (a Bible, a candle, a winnowing basket and a hoe) between Loice, her mother, aunt and brother, imparting a family blessing as they said “May the God of all kindness protect, guide and give you wisdom”:  the singing of the Litany of the Saints in Shona by a male voice in the choir which was very moving:  the Rite of Profession when Loice pronounced her Vows and when she received the ring - a sign of her single-hearted commitment to live the life of discipleship she was professing.

Amidst great ululations from the congregation, the Franciscan Sisters present came up to the sanctuary.  With great joy and hearts filled with gratitude we gave a good rendering of our traditional Franciscan Sisters sing BlessingFranciscan Blessing for Loice.  After Holy Communion the voices of the Carmelite Sisters filled the Cathedral as they sang their hearts out in joy with the Magnificat in Shona. The ceremony concluded with this prayer and blessing from the Bishop:  ”Loice, may your commitment as a Franciscan Missionary Sister for Africa bring meaning to your life.  May this consecration deepen within your heart the desire to seek God in all things, to live constantly in His love and to be possessed by His Divine Presence.”  This is also our wish for Loice.

After the ceremony all were served a meal at the local Greek Club, a fitting ending to a very peaceful and happy.  It was a day when everyone was able to raise their spirits above the painful reality of the day-to-day life going on outside the church and hall in Zimbabwe.  Sr. Miriam had said earlier that this day would be a sign of Hope in an extremely traumatised country.  It truly was.

Bridgette Cormack, FMSA